The Mystic Brewery inhabits the Mystic Valley in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Although the Mystic Valley has served as the backdrop to many winter New England traditions, including sleigh races and the Jingle Bells song, Venture Café has procured a taste of summer from the Brewery as a juxtaposition to the wintery weather – and beers brewed for darkness – of the past week.
The Mystic Brewery focuses its attention on history – that of its home Valley, and that of brewing beer. The Brewery takes pride in its location in the path of Paul Revere’s ride across the Mystic Valley to warn the Minutemen that the British were coming, and named its house yeast – Wigglesworth – after a 1600’s best-selling Mystic Valley author (and relative of the Founder) who wrote Puritanical doomsday pieces that contained rants about everything but beer. The Mystic Brewery preserves the brewing methods practiced before modern industrial processes became preferred by most its peers. Inspired by Belgian brewers who still adhere to historical traditions, Mystic makes “living beer,” stepping out of the way to allow microbes to do their job in creating flavor, aroma, and complexity.
Mystic Brewery’s dedication to the “living beer” tradition is embodied in its mashing step, which converts the starches in grain to sugar. The brewer pours water into crushed, malted grain and allows it to steep, releasing sugars from the grain. Because highly uniform malts are available today, modern mashing often requires nothing more than the addition of carefully temperature-controlled water to the malt. This infusion mashing can be accomplished all at once or through a stepwise process by adding water of different (generally increasing) temperatures over time. However, Mystic Brewery, like many Belgian farmhouse breweries, prefers more variance in its mash, resulting in a more complex, multidimensional product. Mystic brewers light a fire under a pot containing malt and warm water and stir it for over an hour until the conversion is complete, a technique known as gradient mashing. While gradient mashing requires the brewer to relinquish some control over the process, Mystic believes that it sets its beers apart.
The Renaud Saison currently in our kegerator is an example of a Mystic Belgian style beer, from a line that Mystic designates as 16°. 16° refers to degrees plato, which is an historical measurement of the amount of sugars in an unfermented beer, still popular in Central Europe. The 16° beers tend to be strong at approximately 7.0% ABV and thus pair deliciously with food. The Renaud is a summery beer made with pilsner malt and Saaz hops, resulting in Belgian beer with notes of spice and fruit.
This Thursday, journey through the Boston winter to Venture Café, to take advantage of old traditions and a delicious taste of summer.